Ever since dashboard cameras emerged as vital devices in Russia around 2013, they have quickly become popular amongst car drivers, enabling them to capture the true cause of an accident or other vehicular related incident. Even though there are various laws surrounding these devices (e.g. they are banned in Austria), they became popular primarily in Russia. And now viewers have been given a glimpse into some of the footage, thanks to Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie.
Kalashnikov’s directorial feature debut is entirely compiled of dashcam footage. The film gives viewers an insight into what life on Russian roads is like and, to a certain extent, Russian lifestyle in general. Where road rage meets societal shifts of daily life, the film is supremely poignant in that respect. It was nominated for three awards and won Best Documentary Feature at the USA National Film & TV Awards, and the FEST New Directors/New Films Festival in 2017.
While this is not a film for everyone due to its unique concept, it is a very interesting one. By showing dashcam footage, it gives viewers a perspective on a lifestyle they may previously have not known about, e.g. drivers’ attitudes around an accident, which ranges from fearful to throwing a sarcastic comment towards the perpetrator. It is a shame that some clips end too soon. The film will feature a certain situation, but will then cut to the next clip without showing the resolution of previous scuffles. While this is annoying, it doesn’t occur too often.
The film also features four montages along the way that are edited to the beat of various songs. Unfortunately, this aspect of the film made the pacing uneven and slowed the film down at certain points. It would’ve been better if the montages weren’t featured, or if they were featured more frequently, making the film drive much more smoothly.
Overall, The Road Movie is a unique documentary that chooses not to follow the conventions of a typical documentary, and it stands out because of this. Like the phrase goes, ‘A picture speaks 1,000 words,’ and this film is definitely proving that.
Directed by: Dmitrii Kalashnikov